KUWAIT: In a bid to counter criticisms levelled at Kuwait over human rights and expatriate labor issues, the Interior Ministry’s assistant undersecretary for passports ad citizenship affairs Maj Gen Sheikh Faiasal Al- Nawaf recently sent a report to deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al- Khaled on expatriate labor in Kuwait including the total numbers of illegal residents and “free” laborers and suggested solutions. Security sources said that the report also included a plan that would help solve the problem for a decade involving around 100,000 expats.
They added that according to the report and the immigration department database, the total number of expats in violation of residency visa laws almost hit 115,000 and that Kuwait has around 35,000 marginal and loose laborers who have been victimized by visa traffickers. “The report demanded setting strict legislations to apprehend both sponsors and laborers,” stressed the sources.
The sources added that the report warned that the spread of marginal labor posed a threat to national security, especially in view of certain ethnic groups residing in certain areas such as Jleeb that are many-atimes inaccessible for security forces unless backed up by special forces. “This is a main reason behind the spread of various forms of crimes such as bootlegging, murders, sexual abuse, drug trafficking and robberies that vary from stealing manhole covers or parts of power plants,” said the sources. The sources added that the report includes detailed statistics on crime rates per nationality as well as illegal residents as per entry visa type, nationality and areas certain expat communities inhabit.
The report also called for fighting visa traffickers as well as establishing liaison offices with embassies of the countries that have illegal residents to jointly coordinate transferring them to special shelters instead of leaving them in embassy premises in order to eventually issue special travel documents pending deportation. In addition, the report recommended forming tripartite committees to pursue and apprehend illegal residents round the clock.
Moreover, the sources highlighted that the plan includes suggestions to reduce the total numbers of some communities by setting an annual quota per nationality to prevent uncontrolled increases. The sources also denied Kuwait’s intention to get rid of expatriate labor. “What is happening is rationalizing their presence and imposing the law in a way that would achieve Kuwait’s best interests,” said the sources, noting that the plan also aims at internationally improving Kuwait’s image in terms of human rights. —Al-Rai
KUWAIT: Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali gave orders to register vehicles or motorcycles only for people with licenses to drive those vehicles. This was reported by Al-Jarida yesterday quoting Driving Test Department Director at the Capital Governorate, Major Abdulwahab Al-Omar.
“The decision came after it was noticed that many expatriates apply to register vehicles and motorcycles by their names while they are yet to obtain a driver’s license”, he explained. Decisions like this one helps address Kuwait’s traffic problem “in a very significant way”, said Al-Omar. “Finding a solution to the problem does not stop at road expansions or controlling issuance of driver’s licenses, but there are administrative decisions that continuously need to be activated and implemented in the long-term”, he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Omar announced that Maj Gen Al-Ali gave orders as well to subject a person arrested for reckless driving, serious or repeated traffic violations to a new driving test before the license is returned. “Driving test departments received authorization to reevaluate drivers through theory and practical tests and then release detailed reports that determine whether a driver is qualified to receive their license again”, Al-Omar said. — Al-Jarida
KUWAIT: Nearly a hundred doctors and medical staff members demonstrated outside the Amiri Hospital on Monday in a ‘silent protest’ against a decision made by the health committee in the parliament which upheld the Minister of Health’s order to transfer Dr Kefaya Malak to the Infectious Diseases Hospital. This was the second protest since the transfer order was made; which doctors insist was a ‘punishment’ for her instructions to move the ailing father of an MP out of the intensive care unit in order to make room for another patient.
The gatherers also indicated that more protests could be held until Dr Malak’s transfer order is reversed. “This was a silent gathering because the issue has already became clear”, Dr Saad Al- Zanki said as a spokesman for the protesting doctors. “Silence is the best way to express what cannot be described by words”. Health Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al- Sabah had reiterated earlier that Dr Malak’s transfer “meets the general interest” and denied once again “falling under pressure from any parliament member”.
He further rebuffed accusations that the ministry ‘made a deal’ with a health committee member by awarding a tender to a company owned by his brother in exchange of covering documents that convict the minister in the case. “The issue is left up to the investigations committee headed by former health minister Abdulwahab Al- Fawzan and consist of people from outside the ministry”, Al-Sabah said
KUWAIT: According to Adel Al-Saadoun, an astronomer at Al-Fintas Observatory, there won’t be rains on Saturday and Sunday as another meteorologist predicted yesterday. “According to weather predictions for the coming days, we should not expect rain at the beginning of next week. There will be clouds on Thursday but rain is not expected,” he told Kuwait Times. In case it rains, Kuwait is ready and nothing serious is expected to happen. “Kuwait dealt with the previous rains in very good way and after an hour, streets were normal. In fact anywhere in the world, streets get paralyzed for a certain period in emergencies such as heavy rain. But people here like to exaggerate. They are against the government, so if anything bad happens, they blame the government and grill the minister in charge. Kuwait was the best in the Gulf region to deal with the rains unlike Saudi Arabia and other countries that suffered more damages and loss of lives,” he added.
Regarding the earthquakes that took place earlier this week on the Iran-Iraq border, Saadoun believed it was not very strong so it won’t have strong aftershocks. “The slight tremor felt by people in Kuwait was not an aftershock – it was the earthquake itself. An aftershock should happen at the same location of the earthquake, and can happen a week, month or even a year later. In general, Kuwait is not in danger of earthquakes as we are not located on a fault line. But earthquakes can’t be predicted,” he explained. On any danger to the nuclear reactor in Bushehr in Iran, he said that this was a new reactor built to resist earthquakes up to 7 or 8 degrees on the Richter scale. “It’s not the same as the Japanese reactor in Fukushima that was mostly destroyed by water due to a tsunami.
Fortunately in Kuwait and the Gulf, tsunamis are unlikely due to shallow waters and small spaces,” stressed Saadoun. In case the reactor is damaged, radiation can spread in two ways – through air and water. “Through air it’s difficult to reach Kuwait as the wind usually is either northwest, so it will return to Iran, or it’s southwest and will go to Iraq. It can only reach us with easterly winds which is rare. If the water is polluted with radioactive material, then it’ll be dangerous as we depend here on desalinating seawater. Currents move the water to the head of the Gulf and bring it back to Kuwait, so this can’t be prevented,” he concluded.
By Nawara Fattahova
Kuwait: Border security officers foiled two people’s attempt to smuggle their friend who is wanted on state security charges on their way into the country on Sunday. Police grew suspicious when two Kuwaiti men in a vehicle with Saudi licenses requested urgency. Police searched the vehicle and found a person hiding under the backseat of the car. The man was identified as a Kuwaiti national who is wanted by the State Security Service. He was taken to the authorities for further actions while his friends were referred to face smuggling charges.
KUWAIT: Ethiopian authorities have banned local domestic workers to travel to Kuwait for work until recruitment procedures as well as regulations that organize the work of recruitment offices and medical tests in Kuwait are reviewed, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor insiders.
Speaking to Annahar on the condition of anonymity, the sources warned that the decision is likely going to increase fees for housemaid recruitment with the number of main markets becoming limited to the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. Several attempts to contact the Ethiopian embassy to confirm or deny the report were unsuccessful. It true, Ethiopia would join Indonesia which banned domestic workers from traveling to Kuwait in 2009 as well as other southeast Asian countries including Vietnam.
The step would also increase fees that recruitment offices collect which currently ranges between KD 650 and KD 750 to hire a domestic worker from the Philippines, according to the sources. The sources also confirmed that local recruitment offices contacted the interior and social affairs ministries with demands to finalize requirements necessary for Kuwait to sign agreements of understanding with countries that export domestic helpers that protects the rights of both workers and employers.
KUWAIT: MP Kamel Al-Awadhi yesterday asked the interior minister about the number of expatriates legally residing in the country, those who own vehicles and the number of these vehicles. He also asked about the number of expatriates with article 20 residence permits (domestic workers including maids, cooks, drivers and others), those who own vehicles and the number of these vehicles. He asked about rumours that 8,500 people of this category own more than 10,000 vehicles. Awadhi, who was director of the immigration department before he was elected MP, also asked for the number of expatriates who own two cars and more, and inquired about reports that 15 Arabs and foreigners own between 300 and 1,000 vehicles each.
The lawmaker asked for the number of Kuwaitis who own three cars and more, and the number of Gulf citizens and bedoons who own more than two cars and if it was true that Gulf citizens own more than 110,000 vehicles. “Are there 110,000 Gulf citizens actually living in Kuwait?” he wondered. Awadhi also demanded the number of roaming taxi offices, and the number of cars registered by them.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Housing and Municipality Salem Al-Othaina said yesterday he was ready for the debate of the two grillings filed against him in tomorrow’s session and insisted that he will not demand a secret session. MPs filed the two grillings against the minister for allegedly failing to implement the housing strategy, thus causing the number of applications from citizens for houses to reach a record number of around 107,000 applications.
The grilling request was filed by MP Riyadh Al-Adasani. Two other MPs – Abdullah Al-Tameemi and Faisal Al- Duwaisan – also filed another request to grill Othaina holding him responsible for ordering the municipality to remove a number of tents erected by Shiites to mark Ashura. Othaina said he will not demand the second grilling to be debated behind closed doors amid reports that a number of MPs will demand that the grilling be debated in a secret session because of its sectarian sensitivity.
The minister yesterday presented to the National Assembly housing committee a plan that will greatly ease the housing problem. He said that he also informed the committee the legislation and measures needed to resolve the crisis. The Assembly is scheduled to hold a special debate on the housing issue next month. In another development, the Assembly’s health committee ruled yesterday that the controversial transfer of a senior Kuwaiti doctor from the Amiri hospital to the Infectious Diseases Hospital was “a correct decision” and taken without any violation on part of the minister.
Health Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah took the decision earlier this month to move Dr Kefaya Abdulmalek, who alleged that the decision was politically motivated to appease a lawmaker. Her colleagues said the decision was taken after the MP complained to the minister that the doctor did not keep his ailing father in the ICU for a sufficient time although the doctor said she did what was medically required. Committee Rapporteur MP Saadoun Hammad said that the committee discussed the issue in detail and found the transfer decision was normal and correct. Head of the committee MP Saad Al-Khanfour said that the panel found that the minister had taken similar decisions and Abdulmalek was not singled out. However, MP Hussein Al-Quwaiaan, who grilled the health minister, said he has registered his objection to the committee decision being a member in the panel, adding that the panel’s probe was not neutral. He said that the committee refused to review a text message sent by the health ministry undersecretary to Dr Kefaya on her mobile telling her to keep the lawmaker’s father in the ICU on the instructions of the minister.
By B Izzak